As someone who famously claimed that he was the antichrist, Johnny “Rotten” Lydon’s newest gig is sure to raise some eyebrows.
“I’m here to sing with the King of the Jews, who could ask for anything more?” the Sex Pistols frontman told The Guardian, after he was cast as King Herod for the North American leg of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” And, if that’s not enough of a head-scratcher, Lydon will be joined by a VH1 reality series-worthy cast that includes ‘N SYNC’s JC Chasez as Pontius Pilate, Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams as Mary Magdalene and Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd as villainous Jew Judas Iscariot.
But, here’s the thing: For that rare cluster of people who’re fans of both JCS and Rotten, Johnny’s role as Herod actually makes a fair amount of sense.
Rotten’s true brilliance as a frontman wasn’t his crass vulgarity, but rather the smarmy sense of superiority which oozed from his pores every time he took the stage; He didn’t hate you, he was just bored with you. You want a show? Well you’d better damn make it worth his while, and until you do, well, you’re fair game for mockery, ridicule, and gobs upon gobs of spit.
Now tell me you can’t see that same unctuous contempt in Superstar’s Herod:
Sure this could all be a disaster. Sure the last time Lydon sang about religion it was on Public Image Ltd’s 1978 debut (which is fucking great, by the way.) But, y’know what? I choose to see this Jesus-y glass as half full. It might not work on stage, but on paper it’s a casting experiment that’s worth taking seriously.
I mean, hell, Johnny can’t be totally rotten all the time.